Around the Parish: Meet the Choir
We see and hear the St. James Choir each week, and we might know the faces. With the July Grapevine, we begin to introduce the members of the choir, beginning with those who have served longest, and who share what it’s like to lift our praises to the glory of God and in service to St. James Parish by means of a very special ministry.
- Martha Bachman - "I grew up in a household where Mother was a Presbyterian, Daddy was a Southern Baptist and our Northern Ohio town of 2500 people had neither of those denominations, so we became Episcopalians! Mother sang in the choir all her life, and I started in the children's choir (with my beanie) as soon as I was allowed in - I think that was when I was seven. I learned that music strengthened my faith and augmented the liturgy. I remained in choir through High School and continued when I attended Goucher College in Towson MD. where I majored in music theory and was a member of the Glee Club and Choir. I didn’t participate in a choir for a number of years after college, but in 1985 I moved to a small town in NJ where there was a wonderful small parish - St. Peters, Essex Fells. I was a lay reader, choir member, substitute choir director, and organist. When Gus and I moved to Wilmington in 1999, we found that St. James had a good music program and we quickly became members. The choir is an amazing community, with each one of us expressing our love of God through our music."
- Carol Ellis - "Knowing that I was looking for a new church home, a UNCW colleague invited me to St. James Parish in the spring of 1969. I attended for several weeks and was introduced to Charlsie Harris, the then-organist and choir director. Music has always been an important part of my life. Once Charlsie learned that and that I had been in church choirs since I was 12 years old, she “recruited” me for the summer choir. I was confirmed that fall and have been a St. James choir member ever since. The combination of worship, music, service, and fellowship that St. James offers has been and continues to be a blessing to me."
- Billie Holland - "I have been a member of St. James for over 40 years. After attending for a short time, I joined the choir. I have always enjoyed singing and actually sang in the small church choir of my childhood. Through the years I have worn many different hats at St. James but the one that is always there for me is the choir. I find it very rewarding to be a part of the regular services and then also to be a part of the special times, such as Evensong and seasonal celebrations. Thanks be to God for helping me 'make a joyful noise'."
- Jim McFarland - "My earliest memories are of my mother singing in our little church in Rutherfordton, NC where I lived until I was ten. Mom could control the room playing any song anyone wanted to hear and singing along, leading the chorus, I remember her every time I sing. Mom made me sing in several choirs and take piano lessons which refined my voice and ear and the singing inspired me, the piano not as much. We traveled a bit for singing as well and it became a big part of my life. We moved to Durham where dad took a job at Duke and I continued my singing at the First Presbyterian Church downtown which had a very large sanctuary, perfect for singing, and I was inspired once again. One of my fondest memories was of singing a solo in Duke Chapel for the gathering, it was truly an out-of-body experience that inspired me even more deeply. When I was 13 the family decided to move to Columbia, SC, my church in Durham asked me to sing for them before I left. It went badly, my voice cracked fifty times, I barely got through the songs and I was mortified. We up and moved to a new town virtually the next day and I didn’t sing again until I joined the St. James Choir in 1992. I had been coming to services for six months or so when word got out I could sing a bit. David and Candy, choirmasters at that time, began to ask me to join the choir which helped obviously, but I wasn’t quite comfortable with my voice. A few years later, it was Jamie Graves, a beautiful, powerful tenor voice, in our choir at the time, that was the one that inspired me fully once again by awing me with his voice and praising me when I sang. I was having fun again singing and was hooked, I truly missed it the years I was away. It is truly an uplifting thing to sing, singing in the shower, in the car, in the church, whether you hit the notes or not, it is a prayer and a blessing wrapped up in one and it has never failed to make me happy."